Heaven “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (Jesus)

A brief sermon/reflection for 5th Sunday of Easter – Year A – 2020

The readings for today are the following: 

  • Acts 7. 55-end
  • Psalm 31. 1-5
  • 1 Peter 2. 2-10
  • John 14.1-14

You might like to visit https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/ and enter any of the above readings and selecting the NRSV anglicized version or any other version.

Prayer 

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for the words you have given us today. We know that your words are words of life and salvation. Open our hearts Father, touch our souls, forgive us our sins, our lack of faith, help us to respond to your word. Help us to know that being with you, believing in you, is Heaven and may we experience in our hearts how we are loved and saved by you.

Amen. 

Introduction
  • In the Gospel reading for today (John 14:1-14) a couple of themes emerge
    • Heaven – in my Father’s house there are many rooms.
    • When we see Jesus, we see the Father.
  • A friend has had a couple of horrific years. Both her adult children have succumbed to serious and life-threatening conditions. As she has come to terms with this, she has come to realise that the important thing for them now – and for us – is the eternal perspective.
Two parts in this eternal perspective
  • I think there are two parts to this eternal perspective that those children and we need:
    • Clearly it is the perspective of heaven where all things will be made whole and healed.
    • It is also to be able to live in Jesus now – to receive the comfort and wholeness that Jesus can provide to us in this life.

So, heaven is something we connect to as we live now and also when we die.

What do we know about ‘Heaven’?
  • So, what can we know about heaven? Adrian Plass, the Christian writer and humourist joked that he doesn’t want to go to heaven if there is no cricket! And some of us cannot imagine singing hymns 24 hours a day. While we cling to this life and fear its ending ultimately our faith tells us that this is nothing compared to heaven.

  • Five things about heaven. First my passport says I am a British Citizen, but my true identity is as a citizen of heaven. Although this world is what we’re most familiar with we are actually strangers here. Much of what this world owns is foreign to us. Talk to a Street Pastor about what he sees happening late on Friday and Saturday nights you would wonder if it is the same Lincoln that you walk through during the day. We are aliens and strangers to much of what goes on in this world.

  • Secondly, heaven is communal. We will be in heaven with many others. It is a meeting place of those who have died before us. I felt this when I watched that video of the song of the UK Blessing (Google You Tube UK Blessing). It was put online at noon on Sunday 3rd May and as I write four days later it has already had nearly two million views. About 70 churches including Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Salvation Army, Coptic Christians, Orthodox, Church of Scotland, Baptists, Free Churches from every nation in the UK, a Gospel Choir, an Anglican Church orchestra all playing and singing separately in their own homes and compiled into one big song. It is a prayer and a gift to the people of our country. Watching it you have the feeling of a great choir, a great multitude singing over this nation with joy and confidence in God.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every person the UK saw this and knew that God is for them. He hasn’t caused this thing – he’s in it with us. It’s remarkable that even though all the singers were isolated and at the time could only hear their own voice (because it was recorded within social isolating rules) they all look so passionate. Their faces and their hand gestures convey the commitment they have to those simple words. They find it impossible to keep still! These are people who are living in the eternal perspective. They experience the blessing of God now because they spend time in his presence. They also know that ultimately, they are citizens of heaven and heaven is their destiny to live alongside God.

  • Thirdly, Jesus says that heaven is where he goes to prepare a place for us. Heaven is where Jesus is. When the thief on the cross said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Jesus answered, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” I bet the thief heard the word ‘Paradise’. But the important bit was ‘with me’. Heaven is full of the presence of God. It’s where God lives and where he’s inviting us. Revelation 21 prophecies that “the dwelling of God is with human beings.”

  • Fourthly, we can know what heaven is like because Jesus has shown us. Everywhere that Jesus went he healed people. Unequivocally he healed everyone who came to him. I love to say that heaven is a sickness free zone. God hates illness and death. He hates injustice, poverty, war, cruelty, exploitation., hunger, thirst, homelessness, slavery … All the things that Jesus showed us will be what heaven is like. The lion will lie down with the lamb; swords will be made into ploughshares. The Garden of Eden tended by humans and with God walking through is what will be restored in heaven.

  • Finally – and most importantly for now – we can experience a little of heaven in our day to day lives. But to do this we need to spend time in the presence of God. By doing that he works in and on us. Are you spending time in the presence of God? If not, how can you expect to experience God’s gift of heaven now?

  • On the Springline Parish website you can find many resources under the tab “Online Worship”. Also, if you click on “Worshipping God” and then on “Seeking God” near the bottom you will find some simple daily reflections.

  • But what I am finding most helpful at the moment is Lectio 365 https://www.24-7prayer.com/dailydevotional This is a simple daily Bible reading prayer and Bible Reading that lasts about 11 minutes. I listen to it with headphones on. When it is ended I often just want to stay quietly in the same place. With God!
Conclusion

Heaven. I’m with C. S. Lewis. The new heaven and new earth that God will provide will make this earth look like a pale shadow. If we can trust him to make something so good for us to live in now, how much more can we trust him to create something amazing for the future?

Prayer

A Prayer you can say now:

Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for coming to us at Christmas. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for rising from the dead to give me hope. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you into heart and my life to be my Lord and Saviour. I want to serve you always.

Amen.

[John Beverley]

in our thoughts and prayers

Some Prayers/ Intercessions for the Fifth Sunday after Easter

“Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.

If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected,

it will wither and die.”

 

Jesus is alive.

Love has won the victory over evil and death.

 

As we continue to celebrate the risen Christ in this Eastertide,

on this fifth Sunday of Easter,

we bring all our concerns, worries and burdens us to the Lord

and we turn our hearts to the Risen Jesus “the way, and the truth, and the life

the one who give us true hope, strength and deep peace

and who has told us “I have come that you may have life and life in all its fullness.”

 

Silent Pause …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Let us pray to the Lord,
who is our refuge and strong support. 

For the health and well-being of our nation,
that all who are fearful and anxious
may be at peace and free from worry:

Silent Pause …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For the isolated, vulnerable and housebound,
that we may be sensitive and alert to their needs,
and care for them in their need:

Silent Pause …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For our homes and families,
our schools and young people,

during this time of lockdown
and all in any kind of need, grief or distress:

Silent Pause …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

For a blessing on our local village communities,
that our homes and neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship,
where all are known and cared for:

Silent Pause …

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

fter a silent, slightly longer pause …

Father,

we feel loved,

we feel forgiven,

we feel saved.

Thank you for Jesus Christ your Son

who died for us on the cross

and rose again from the dead

and who offers us

true peace and true hope.

Help us to hold on to him

and to follow him

the way, the truth and the life.

Amen.                                                            

[ST Mattapally]